US President Joe Biden issued an executive order Thursday imposing sanctions on the Russian government for interference in recent US elections.
The restrictions are designed to rebuke Russian election activity and place economic pressure on the government. Pursuant to the order, Secretary of Treasury Janet Yellen is prohibiting US financial institutions from participating in the new ruble or non-ruble-denominated bonds issued after June 14. Treasury Department officials expect the sanctions to have a ripple effect on the entire Russian economy. Further, the Treasury also designated six Russian technology companies for assisting the government in carrying out cyber interference.
In 2019, Special Counsel Robert Mueller released a report finding that the Russian government engaged in “sweeping and systematic” election interference to assist then-candidate Donald Trump in his 2016 presidential campaign. Declassified intelligence reports released last month showed similar findings in the 2020 presidential election.
“[Elections] are sacred. They’re sovereign undertakings, and they’re an expression of the will of the American people, and we cannot allow a foreign power to interfere with our [democratic] process with impunity,” Biden commented at a Thursday briefing.
The announcement marks a shift from the previous presidential administration. In response to similar election interference allegations in the summer of 2018, then-president Trump seemingly defended the Russian government, saying “I have President Putin. He just said it’s not Russia. I will say this. I don’t see any reason why it would be.” Trump went on to characterize Putin’s denial as “strong” and “powerful” but later claimed he misspoke after receiving negative media coverage.
The Kremlin characterized the sanctions as illegal and vowed a response.